Tents and Shelters
The ideal tent for your trip depends, of course, on the expected weather and the number of people it will shelter. Some cyclists on extended tours favour a three-person tent to house two, providing more room for belongings. Some even carry a tent that with a large enough vestibule to protect bikes. While we like having the option of camping, we don’t always camp, and are quite weight conscious. We carry an MSR Hubba Hubba tent. It’s a three season tent with excellent ventilation and two small side vestibules. It weighs 2 kg.
When touring in non-camping mode, we usually carry a small tarp, which can be used as a picnic blanket or emergency shelter. We purchased an Integral Designs Siltarp 1 Tarp and carried it in addition to our tent for the Trans-Asia trip. We used it for picnics as well as covering bikes for security or weather protection when camped.
For areas with disease-carrying mosquitoes, we carry individual mosquito nets impregnated with Permethrin.
If I were travelling solo, I’d investigate hammocks, bivvy sacks, and tarpaulins as an alternative to a tent. This would save the carrying the weight of tent poles. But I’m not travelling solo, so don’t take my advice!
Sleeping Bags and Pads
A good quality down mummy bag will probably be the warmest, lightest and most compact option, although not the cheapest. Don’t consider synthetic bag unless you are cash-strapped or travelling in a very humid climate because keeping the down dry is relatively easy on a bike. We used new down sleeping bags good to -3C for our Trans-Asia venture.
Even though our bones are getting old, we don’t see much advantage of a full length sleeping pad over one that supports only our shoulders and hips. We’re always carrying enough clothing that we can put a few items under our feet if needed. We have ThermaRest ProLite 3 sleeping pads, which are light and pack small.
Stoves and Cooking
For extended travel in developing countries, there are two issues with lightweight camp stoves. One is the apparent total absence of an international standard for stoves, fuels, fuel canisters, and canister attachment mechanisms. The other issue is airline regulations pertaining to travel with stoves.
Liquid Fuel Stoves:
The main consideration is fuel availability. Unleaded gasoline (as used for cars) is the most widely available fuel, and MSR now makes an MSR XGK stove designed to run on this (Coleman also have a gasoline burning stove). Apparently it will also take white gas, kerosene, diesel, or aviation gas.
Pressurized Canister Stoves:
The canister shapes and attachment systems vary widely from country to country. We hunted fruitlessly across Eastern Europe for canisters to fit a so-called universal canister stove. Canisters were either incompatible, or simply unavailable. We would likely not consider carrying a canister stove again.
Check the regulations of each airline. In theory, if a stove has been well-aired it should be possible to carry in checked luggage. A new stove, with receipt and original packaging, should be permitted. A pressurized canister is clearly a no go, but a brand new liquid fuel bottle (keep receipt and original packaging) should be allowed. The downside of travelling with a brand new stove is that you can’t test it for early-life problems before departure.
In addition to a set of nesting pots, we bring two cups, two sporks, and a bigger spoon for stirring. No need for bowls when travelling as a couple. We just take turns eating out of the pot. We took a thin roll-up cutting board for the Trans-Asia trip. We took chopsticks for our Asia trip.